Nick Saban's faith and C. S. Lewis

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Nick Saban’s faith and C. S. Lewis

July 21, 2014 -

Nick Saban is one of the greatest coaches in college football history.  His teams have won four national titles.  He is the first coach in history to win a national championship with two different schools (LSU and Alabama).  A few years ago, Forbes Magazine named him “The Most Powerful Coach in Sports.”  In May 2013, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.

Saban was an assistant coach at Kent State, Syracuse, West Virginia, Ohio State, Navy, and Michigan State, as well as with the Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns in the NFL.  He was head coach at Toledo, Michigan State, and LSU before coaching the Miami Dolphins in the NFL.  In 2007 he became head coach at Alabama, where he has won three national championships.

Saban has been in the news recently amid reports that he turned down a $100 million offer to coach the Texas Longhorns.  In a press conference, he made this statement:

“I think the University of Texas is a fantastic place, and they’ve got a lot of wonderful people there, it’s a great institution.  But this is about the station in my life where we are.  We moved around a lot.  If I had to do it over, I’d have just tried to stay in one place and establish a great program, not have all these goals and aspirations of things that eventually, you know, you weren’t happy doing.”

I find his self-assessment fascinating.  Nick Saban is one of the most successful football coaches of all time.  And yet his “goals and aspirations” haven’t made him happy.

The problem was apparently not with his family or his faith.  Saban and his wife have been married since 1971.  He is a very devout Catholic Christian who attends Mass before every game.   He and his wife started the foundation Nick’s Kids, which has donated millions to help mentally-challenged children.

Rather, the problem is with the goals and aspirations themselves.  You and I were made for intimacy with God.  He designed us to love him and share his love, to know him and make him known.  He intends our lives to advance his Kingdom, to glorify him on earth as we will glorify him in heaven.  Anything less is not enough for our souls.

C. S. Lewis described human history this way: “Terrific energy is expended—civilizations are built up—excellent institutions devised; but each time something goes wrong.  Some fatal flaw always brings the selfish and cruel people to the top and it all slides back into misery and ruin.  In fact, the machine conks.  It seems to start up all right and runs a few yards, and then it breaks down.  They’re trying to run it on the wrong juice.  That’s what Satan has done to us humans.”

What “juice” are you running on today?

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